Last week America’s corporate media let you know that representatives from 12 nations including U.S. government officials had agreed on the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership “free trade” deal, much criticized for its being hidden from the public and reportedly controlled by international corporations – which smacks of being detrimental to you, the citizenry.
But TPP is just part of the story of what could affect your freedoms:
Last Saturday in Berlin, at least 150,000 people publicly protested the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a secretly negotiated proposed pact between Europe and the U.S. As Reuters reported this weekend:
Opposition to the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has risen over the past year in Germany, with critics fearing the pact will hand too much power to big multinationals at the expense of consumers and workers…
…The level of resistance has taken Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government by surprise and underscores the challenge it faces to turn the tide in favor of the deal which proponents say will create a market of 800 million and serve as a counterweight to China’s economic clout.
You can read details of the TTIP — which the U.S. considers a companion trade deal to the TPP — including criticisms, here.
TPP and You
We wrote in detail about the TPP in June of this year in a column, published on reality: a world of views, headlined “Washington: ‘Trust Us” on Secret TPP. Right.”. That’s a look at arguments on the TPP from both sides, including a negative argument from Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.
Stiglitz has continued criticizing the TPP. Late last month, the Columbia University professor spoke at the University of British Columbia (Canada is a proposed TPP member). The Vancouver Sun said Stiglitz “warned Canadians that the 12-nation free-trade deal, which includes Canada, has the potential to damage certain aspects of quality of life for consumers and citizens.”
The Sun quoted Stiglitz:
That’s where these agreements are becoming particularly bad. It used to be that trade agreements were negotiated over tariffs … the consumers gained. The new agreements are about getting rid of regulations. We’re talking about regulation over the environment, safety, economy, health. The consumers, who are not at the table, get screwed.
Thanks to some leaks of the secret TPP, some facts have come forth, as Stiglitz noted:
They’ve been negotiating in secret, so we don’t know the exact terms. But we have a pretty good idea. There’s one provision which allows any company to sue the government if there’s a new regulation. That kind of regulation is being used by (cigarette maker) Philip Morris to sue Uruguay and Australia about cigarette disclosure.
Now imagine if this kind of law had been in place when we discovered asbestos is dangerous to your health. Rather than what did happen — asbestos manufacturers were shut down and used their profits to compensate those who had to re-do their buildings and those who are dying from asbestos — under the new trade agreement, the government would have to pay the companies to not kill anybody … It takes away the basic right of government to protect its citizens.
Stiglitz also noted how the TPP would favor Big Pharma (drug companies) and other multinationals over nations and citizens.
China’s Non-U.S. Trade Deals
Did you notice in the Reuters quote early in this column: pro-TTIP officials consider the proposed deal “a counter-weight to China’s economic clout”. Peculiar Progressive discussed in a June column how the Obama administration has tried to curtail China’s economic growth, including ostracizing it from the TPP. We also discussed how it could lead to military conflict. You can read that column, “China, the U.S. and Looming War”, here.
This past week, two articles looked at China’s trade moves which offset the TPP. Reuters indicated in its article on China’s Regional Economic Comprehensive Partnership (RCEP) that Beijing is scurrying to catch up to the U.S.’s TPP efforts. But India’s Economic Times takes a different view, noting, “observers say the web of bilateral deals Beijing has forged is enough to maintain its global clout.”
It’s tough to see the Millionaire Congress not favoring the multinationals, military-industrial complex and Wall Street oligarchy rather than citizens when voting on the TPP and TTIP. It will take a strong citizens’ effort to challenge that. Which means, if you want to protect your freedoms, you’ll need to get organized, get educated, and get active in challenging the oligarchy.
Why not, for you and your children, see what you can do?